Taiwan deploys newly US-supplied M1167 anti-tank missile carriers as China increases pressure - M5 Dergi
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Taiwan deploys newly US-supplied M1167 anti-tank missile carriers as China increases pressure

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As reported by New 27 Brigade on May 23, 2024, the M1167 HMMWV TOW missile carriers that Taiwan purchased from the United States have begun to be deployed within military units. These military vehicles, part of the “Hunter Project,” are equipped with a new batch of TOW 2B missiles, which have wireless guidance capabilities. The new HMMWVs offer stronger protection and greater mobility compared to the currently active M1045 models in the Taiwanese Army.

This delivery and deployment coincide with China initiating a series of military drills around Taiwan, leading to heightened regional tensions. These exercises, involving various branches of the Chinese military, focus on simulated strikes on key targets in Taiwan. The drills feature significant maneuvers by aircraft and naval vessels, aiming to test the military’s precision strike capabilities and maintain a strategic stance around the island. This action follows Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent visit to the United States, which Beijing views as provocative.

Taiwan has reported detecting numerous Chinese aircraft and ships operating near its territory, with some crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, traditionally seen as a buffer zone. In response, Taiwan has heightened its military alertness, deploying assets to monitor and respond to these activities. The United States has called for restraint to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, while Japan and other regional actors have expressed concern over potential escalation. These drills underscore the ongoing strategic and political tensions among China, Taiwan, and the US, with China reiterating its claims over Taiwan and reacting strongly against actions perceived as supporting Taiwanese independence.

In 2024, Taiwan is scheduled to receive 81 BGM-71F TOW 2B anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) as part of a larger defense package, involving a $14.2 billion backlog in military equipment that the U.S. has agreed to supply to Taiwan since 2019, contributing to its broader defense strategy in response to increasing tensions with China. This arms package also includes various systems such as F-16 fighter jets, Patriot missile system upgrades, Stinger missiles, and deliveries of M1A2 Abrams tanks, which will replace older models in Taiwan’s arsenal, such as the M60A3 and CM11 tanks. The first batch of 38 tanks is expected to arrive in 2024, with additional deliveries planned for 2025 and 2026. However, Taiwan has faced delays in receiving some of its purchased equipment, mainly due to problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This arms deal aims to enhance Taiwan’s defense capabilities amid rising military pressure from China. Efforts have been made to expedite the delivery of these arms, reflecting an increased focus on strengthening Taiwan’s defensive posture. The U.S. has prioritized the provision of defensive weaponry and sustainment through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), resulting in a record number of FMS notifications in recent years.

The BGM-71F TOW 2B is an anti-tank guided missile developed by Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon) for the U.S. military. Originating in the 1960s and entering service in 1970, the TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) system has seen numerous enhancements. The TOW 2B, introduced in the 1990s, deviates from its predecessors by employing a “fly-over, shoot-down” approach, targeting the more vulnerable top sections of armored vehicles. This version features dual explosively formed penetrator (EFP) warheads, which detonate above the target to direct explosive force downward, enhancing penetration effectiveness.

Technically, the TOW 2B is about 1.5 meters long and weighs approximately 21.5 kilograms. It has a maximum effective range of 3.75 kilometers, extendable to 4.5 kilometers in the TOW 2B Aero variant. Guidance is achieved through a combination of a laser profilometer and a magnetic sensor. The system includes an advanced thermal imaging sight and integrated optical system for precise target acquisition. The TOW 2B can be deployed from various platforms, including ground vehicles, helicopters, and portable launchers.

The M1167 is a variant of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), designed primarily as a TOW missile carrier. It is part of the expanded capacity family of HMMWVs used by the U.S. military, which emphasizes mobility and versatility for carrying and launching anti-tank missiles. This model includes an Integrated Armor Package (IAP) to protect its crew and essential components. The M1167 is equipped with the M41 Improved Target Acquisition System (ITAS), which aids in the precise targeting and launching of TOW missiles. These wire-guided missiles are effective against various armored targets.

The M1167 has a gross vehicle weight of about 13,100 pounds (5,942 kg) and operates with a turbocharged diesel engine designed for diverse terrain performance. It also features a secondary weapons mount for close-range defense, capable of supporting additional weapons like machine guns mounted on a 360-degree ring. This vehicle is used in different tactical situations, providing anti-armor capabilities and supporting ground troops with its offensive functions.

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